Impacting the Food Chain and Us
What are GMOs?
º GMOs (that is, genetically-modified organisms) are ―crops that are altered with inserted genetic
material to exhibit a desired trait.‖2
• This most often refers to pesticides meant to keep crops alive.
º The reality of genetically-modified organisms first became possible in 1935, when Russian
scientist Andrei Nikolaevitch Belozersky isolated pure DNA.
º After over fifty years of continued research, the first GMO patent is issued by a five-to-four
Supreme Court ruling in 1980.
º By 1982, Humulin is released to the market.
º The Flavr Savr tomato hits the shelves in 1994.
º GMO-resistant weeds appear in 1996, as do GMO-resistant pests in 2003.
º GMO crops dominate the industry in 1999, and by 2011 the Bt toxin is discovered in humans.
--GMO Timeline: A History of Genetically Modified Foods6
National Opinion: Then Versus Now
º The public may have been enthusiastic about the possibility of genetic modification in the early
20th century, but by 2012 the science has been vigorously opposed.
º Monsanto‘s Roundup Ready line of pesticides, among other factors, have been a cause of
trouble to farmers and individuals worldwide.
The Food Chain
º A food chain refers to a direct passage of nutrients from one organism to another.10
º It can be more accurately described as a food web, since distribution is not even as the concept
of a chain implies.10
º The fundamental unit of any food chain are the autotrophs – which are, simply, plants.
Alternatively, The Food Pyramid
º This cycle can also be represented as a pyramid, in which ―energy transfer [occurs] through the
ecosystem from larger numbers of ‗lower‘ forms of life through suceedingly smaller numbers of
‗higher‘ forms as the organisms at one level are eaten by the organisms at the next higher
The Food Chain
How it Works
º Plants are sustained by the process of photosynthesis and by the nutrients of decomposed
elements in the soil.
º These primary producers are then eaten by consumers, which fall into two categories: Primary
consumers (or herbivores), and secondary consumers (or carnivores).
º Consumers eventually die and decompose, which in turn feeds the plants that begin the cycle
How it Affects Us and Vice Versa
º Humans are typically considered to be at the top of the food chain.
º Chemical pollutants that have leaked into the food chain can produce harmful results which can
off-set the entire cycle.
The Modification Process
How It Works
º ―Genetic engineering [or biotechnology] uses recombinant DNA technology to transfer genetic
material from one organism to another to produce plants, animals, enzymes, drugs and
º The modification process is a matter of taking the desired gene – or ―trans-gene‖ – of one
element and implanting it into the desired organism – or ―target species‖ – by means of a vector
that said organism will accept into its system.5
º ―They‘re completely swapping genes between the normal species barriers, creating new organisms
that were not part of the evolutionary process.‖3
The Modification Process
Types of Modification
º ―Most commercial biotech crops are developed to be either herbicide tolerant, allowing
herbicides to kill weeds without harming crops, or insect resistant, which protects plants from
º ―More recently, biotechnology firms have developed genetically engineered animals, including
food animals such as hogs and salmon.‖2
º ―They have spider genes that they put into goats in the hopes that they can milk the goat to get
spider web protein to make bulletproof vests.‖3
The Modification Process
º The Food and Drug Administration was never opposed to approving the distribution of GMO
foods, though they were warned that ―genetic engineering is different from conventional
breeding and poses special risks, including the production of new toxins or allergens.‖1
º ―Contrary to popular belief, the FDA does not have a mandatory GM food safety assessment
process and has never approved a GM food as safe. It does not carry out or commission safety
tests on GM foods. Instead, the FDA operates a voluntary programme for pre-market review of
GM foods. All GM food crops commercialised to date have gone through this review
process, but there is no legal requirement for them to do so. Companies that develop GM crops
are allowed to put any GMO … on the market that they wish, though they can be held liable
for any harm to consumers that results from it.‖1
Purpose and Opinion
º The Monsanto Corporation is a sustainable agriculture company that is ―by far the biggest seller
of GM crops in the world.‖7
• They have revolutionized the farming industry by introducing sciences and pesticides that drastically
affect crops and their environments.
• Monsanto‘s Roundup Ready crops – crops modified to be immune to their own line of weed killer comprise most of today‘s GMOs.3
º ―We are focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land
while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. We do this
with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables. We
also produce leading in-the-seed trait technologies for farmers, which are aimed at protecting
their yield, supporting their on-farm efficiency and reducing their on-farm costs.‖7
º ―The problem with Monsanto is not just their corrosive lobbying practices, but the fact that the
products they produce, genetically engineered foods and chemical weed killers, are in more
than 70% of the processed foods that we eat and feed our families every day.‖8
Monsanto: ―The same company … that told us that PCBs, Agent Orange, and DDT were
Today’s Grocery List
Most Modified Foods
º ―The most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian
papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow).‖4
• These also often appear as minute ingredients in many other foods.
º Consider that most non-organic infant formula is made from genetically-modified soy.3
Other Foods with Modified Ingredients
º GMOs may also be found in common processed food ingredients including amino
acids, vitamin C, citric acid, natural and artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, lactic
acid, and molasses.4
º ―There are only nine genetically-modified food crops, but their derivatives are found in over
70% of the foods in the supermarket – particularly the processed foods.‖3
º ―The U.S. does not require labels on the view that genetically modified food is not materially
different than non-modified food.‖9
º There are two kinds of genetically-modified crops: ―The herbicide-tolerant crops – you can
spray them with herbicide and not kill them – or the pesticide-producing crops that produce
their own toxic insecticides that if a bug bites those plants, it breaks open the stomach and kills
• The majority of the United States‘ GMO crops are engineered to withstand Monsanto‘s Roundup
º ―Every single cell within that plant is producing a toxic protein.‖3
º ―Bt is designed to break open the stomach of insects and kill them, so when the doctors hear
about this, that Bt corn was introduced into our diet in the mid-90s, they say that this may
explain the increase in gastrointestinal problems that they‘re seeing in their practice.‖3
• Meanwhile, it is still reported that the Bt toxin is harmful only to insects.3
―Plants treated with [Monsanto‘s] Roundup have a reduction in available nutrients. They‘re
weak and they‘re sick.‖3
º ―What do livestock in the United States eat? Roundup Ready crops: Roundup Ready
soy, corn, cotton seed, canola meal, sugar beet pulp, and now alfalfa. The bulk of their diet is
Roundup Ready crops, and those crops are nutrient-deficient and have high concentrations of
º ―Studies with pigs show the allergy response [to] the GMO food reproduce[s] all of the
physiological changes we see in the intestine and inflammatory response [we see] in the
stomach to those foreign proteins that we see with autistic children.‖3
―The animals that eat the nutrient-deficient plants, they become nutrient-deficient and
weak and sick.‖3
º ―Over the past twenty years there‘s been an almost logarithmic increase in a whole series of
• Autism, birth defects, and even cancer are just a few examples on a growing list of complications.
º ―Twenty-five to thirty, thirty-five years ago, no one was allergic to anything.‖3
º The effects of the Bt toxin may be causing intestinal permeability; this allows certain food
particles to get into the bloodstream, and in an effort to eradicate them allergic reactions are
created by the body.3
• Food allergies are becoming increasingly and dangerously common; that we could become allergic to
everything meant to sustain us is starting to become a possibility.
―Then we eat the animals and the plants that are nutrient deficient, and we may become
weak and sick.‖3
―We have to somehow educate the public so that they understand that they have a
choice: They don‘t have to eat genetically-engineered foods.‖3
The simplest way to reverse and avoid complications caused by GMO foods is simply to
exclude them from your diet.
Look for foods labeled as organic or non-GMO, or simply avoid questionable ingredients
The issues concerning labeling and the FDA may linger for quite some time. But, by
starting small and making changes in your own diet, you can help the effort being put
forth to change the diet of the entire nation and to preserve the health of the world.
1. Antoniou, Michael, Claire Robinson, and John Fagan. GMO Myths and
Truths: An Evidence-Based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety
and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops. London: Earth Open
7. Monsanto. Monsanto Company, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
2. "Genetically Engineered Food: An Overview." Food & Water Watch.
Food & Water Watch, 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
8. Murphy, Dave. "The March to Stop Monsanto: Taking Back Our
Food, Our Farms, Our Democracy and Our Planet." Breaking News and
Opinion on The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 28
May 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davemurphy/monsanto-gmo-food_b_3337043.html?utm_hp_ref=gmos>.
Source, 2012. Print.
3. Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives. Dir. Jeffrey M. Smith. 2012.
DVD. YouTube. 18 June 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
4. "GMOs and Your Family: Make Informed Choices About What Your
Family Is Eating." Non-GMO Project. Non-GMO Project, n.d. Web. 29
Nov. 2013. <http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/gmos-andyour-family/>.
5. "How Are GMOs Made?" HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
6. Karimi, Shireen. "GMO Timeline: A History of Genetically Modified
Foods."GMOInside.org. GMO Inside, 10 Mar. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
9. Olster, Marjorie. "GMO Foods: Key Points In The Genetically
Modified Debate."Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
10. Schmidt, Lisa. ―Chapter Ten: Cycles and Patterns in the Biosphere.‖
Victor Valley College, Victorville. 25 Nov. 2013. Lecture.
11. Shark Tale. Dir. Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron, and Rob Letterman.
Perf. Will Smith, Jack Black, and Robert De Niro. DreamWorks
Pictures, 2004. Film.
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